Google Nexus 4 review
A great handset for those who want Android in its purest form, but the hardware can't quite best the Samsung Galaxy S3
Review Date: 4 Apr 2013
Price when reviewed: £0
Reviewed By: Seth Barton
Updated with a more in-depth look at the current OS, Android 4.2, and how it affects the phone. We've also got more information on the availability of accessories in the UK and wireless charging.
We're not sure if this handset is called the Google Nexus 4 because it's the fourth Nexus-branded smartphone, or because it has a 4.7in display, as opposed to the 7in and 10in displays of the Google Nexus 7 and Google Nexus 10 tablets, either way it fits.
It's certainly a match technically for its bigger siblings, with a high-resolution display, quad-core chipset and a brand-spanking new version of Android, version 4.2 (still called Jellybean).
Before getting into the meat of this Nexus 4 review, it's worth pointing out that the Nexus 4 has proved to be very popular. Google and LG have struggled to keep up with demand, with the handset being out of stock almost constantly since its launch - that is buying it direct from Google.
LG and Google have reportedly blamed each other for the poor stock levels, with LG saying that Google under-estimated demand, and Google saying that LG's supply chain is to blame. Whatever the reason, the handset is finally back in stock, although it's impossible to say for sure how long this will last. Traditionally Google introduces a new Nexus every 12 months, so the Nexus 4 should have another 10 months to run before being replaced
Previous Nexus smartphones were manufactured by HTC and Samsung (twice), but Google likes to share things around and so this handset is made by LG. Now LG's handsets haven't wowed us to the extent of those two brands of late, although the LG Optimus 4X HD provided plenty of bang for the buck.
BUILD AND LOOKS
The Nexus 4 is a pretty bland handset at first glance, with none of the opinion-splitting design cues from the LG's Prada range, which have since spread to some other models. The front is practically featureless, thanks to the use of software buttons on the display itself. The screen has nicely curved edges too, so it fits almost seamlessly into the rest of the body.
Turn it sideways and it's slender, but not stick-thin, at 9.1mm. That said it's very comfortable to hold thanks to its sloped-off edges (they're too curved to be called bevelled), the power button is easy to find with either hand.
The showpiece is on the rear of the handset, where the backplate is formed of hundreds of little glittery pixels beneath the surface, and beneath the Nexus and LG logos. They catch the light and the pattern changes as you twist the phone. It's a nice effect but can't make up for the fact that this phone is made up from a number of plastic elements rather than having a sleek polycarbonate or metal unibody.
The handset is a single sealed unit, which makes it feel more sturdy than the Samsung Galaxy S3 with its removable backplate. There's no access to the battery and no memory card slot provided. The latter may be an issue for a minority of media hoarders, as only 8GB and 16GB storage options are available.
The micro USB port also doubles up as a display output, though surprisingly it doesn't use the MHL standard that we've seen on numerous recent devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy S3. Instead it supports the new SlimPort standard, which is based upon DisplayPort.
AS with MHL, you can use an adaptor to connect the port to a DVI or VGA display. In practice we couldn't find any such adaptors for sale yet in the UK, and the only adaptors in the US are HDMI ones, which cost a whopping $29 (around £18). Like MHL, SlimPort will also charge your phone (depending on the adaptor used). Frankly we can't really see the benefit to consumers of another standard, given that MHL-to-HDMI is fine for the vast majority of people's needs and cables are widely available from around £6.
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